Bleak Sales Greet PC Makers, Video Gamers in New Year


The digital revolution sweeping technology appears to be claiming personal computers and video games as its primary victims.

During the all-important holiday season, both industries saw deep slumps in sales figures, just as consumers migrate to tablet devices and smartphones for entertainment and computing purposes. Data from technology industry tracker IDC showed PC sales slumped for the first time in more than five years, while research from NPD Group said video game sales and gaming consoles tumbled 22 percent last month.

The slump in computers comes as Microsoft brought its new Windows 8 operating system to market, as well as its Surface tablet device that the company hopes will erode the dominance of Apple's iPad, Amazon's Kindle and Barnes and Noble's Nook, among others. The so-called tablet wars are being joined as the battle over smartphones wages, with Apple going head to head with Samsung for consumer loyalty.

Computer makers such as Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo and Dell suffered a miserable 2012, industry watchers said, with little signs of relief as fickle buyers become more enamored of using phones and tablets for their computing needs.

For similar reasons, video games and console sales have fallen dramatically. NPD data said overall sales fell to $3.21 billion in December, from $4.1 billion in the comparable year-ago period. Although certain titles remain popular, sales of video games themselves, excluding PC titles, nosedived 26 percent during the period, to $1.54 billion. Physical gaming devices like the Xbox 360 and Wii, slid 20 percent.

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For all of 2012, 352 million PCs were sold, down 3.2 percent from 2011. IDC data showed that was the first annual decline since 2001.

For 2013, the firm is forecasting relatively modest 2.8 percent growth in PC sales, underscoring how computer makers may not see much relief this year, even if the global economy escapes a recession.

-- Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this article.